Ham Radio & Disaster Relief
Ham radio operators build and operate radios out of a love for science, engineering and the thrill radio communication provides. However, when a disaster hits, they become an indispensable link between communities, first responders and law enforcement. During natural disasters, the phone lines may become overwhelmed, power service disrupted, and roadways including bridges impassable. This makes the sharing of information extremely difficult and the spread if misinformation more likely, which can become a serious threat to public safety and security. With the use of ham radios, the right resources can be allocated where they are needed, quickly and efficiently. These scenarios have been playing out in real-time recently and the use of ham radios has resulted in countless lives saved.
Many licensed amateur ham radio enthusiasts around the nation (and the world) have organized in an effort to maintain clear lines of communications during and after disasters. Many groups in the United States voluntarily provide their licensing information, equipment, time, and effort to develop and maintain a network of reliable radio operators able to communicate directly with federal, state, and local authorities, as well as those in their communities with access to their own radios. Since there are no designated frequencies for amateur hams to rely on, the locally organized groups provide an organized system within the UHF and VHF ranges to communicate during disaster relief to alleviate any confusion.
Social media has begun to play an important role in helping local officials provide aid to their communities during disasters, but social media only works with a Wi-Fi signal and/or available service provider. Many ham radios have rechargeable batteries and can easily send shortwave signals with little to no interruption. When bouncing signals off the atmosphere to send longer distance messages, interruptions can be encountered, but communication can be easily shared along a pathway of shorter distances in order to reach the final destination. With the sharing of accurate social media content supplementing ham radio operators, first responders (and good Samaritans) are able to help the recovery process along at lightning speed.
Building and operating ham radios is not only an exciting, educational hobby that lets you talk to the world from the comfort of your home. It’s a powerful tool able to save lives on a daily basis. When the power goes out, when the Internet is down, knowledge of ham radio communications may help communities recover faster, stronger and better than ever before.
Have you used your ham radio to provide disaster relief in your community? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!